Week 2 of OTAs for the Bills began in earnest on Tuesday and it was clear that the defense was focused on installing some of their blitz packages. Right off the bat in 11-on-11 they were coming with five pass rushers.
Pressure on the quarterbacks didn't happen on every snap, but there was noticeable push to the pocket and some of the more notable pass rushers on the team had quarterback pressures. Mario Williams closed very fast on Ryan Fitzpatrick after he rolled out of the pocket away from the pressure up the middle. Shawne Merriman also had a quarterback pressure on Vince Young, though under live conditions it might have been a sack.
Later in practice Chris Kelsay and Spencer Johnson met behind the line of scrimmage where Brad Smith would've been taken down in a full contact situation. All the pressure generated had Nick Barnett excited about the potential of the defensive line.
"With a 4-3 defense you have to have those guys up front do what they do," said Barnett. "So far, grant it we don't have pads on, we can't physically see what is really going on, but they look like some monsters out there. The way that they are rushing, that rotation that they have with all of those guys, Mark Anderson, Shawne (Merriman), and obviously Mario (Williams) and our interior guys. If we keep everybody healthy we should be something to deal with."
Merriman, who got team work with the second unit last week in his return from Achilles surgery, was running with the twos again Tuesday. Head coach Chan Gailey has liked what he's seen from Merriman.
"He looks quick to me," said Gailey. "He's coming off the edge with that same speed and quickness that I remember. It looks good right now. The best thing about it is he says he feels good. It's not one of those where he's feeling something or trying to hide something or limping or something like that as he's coming off the field at the end of practice. He's bouncing off at the end of practice like he did at the start of practice."
Fred, C.J. comboWith the emergence of C.J. Spiller in the last six games last season following the season-ending fibula injury to Fred Jackson in Week 11, there's a clear aim on the part of the offensive staff to get both backs on the field together as much as possible.
Such an approach not only gets more talent on the field, but adds a tremendous amount of versatility knowing both players can split wide as receivers and block.
"The great thing about it is we can put both of them anywhere," said Gailey. "We can leave one of them in the backfield and put the other one out as a receiver or motion them out. They both can block well enough so they create problems for the defense, so it's really a good thing for us to have."
"C.J. and I were joking with each other when we go in what position we're at," said Jackson. "I'm trying to confuse him and he's trying to confuse me. The more we get used to doing it the better we'll get at doing it. Hopefully it'll be something we can use as a tool throughout the season."
Making the tandem even more versatile is Spiller's improved blocking technique, helping to make him a more complete back.
"He can do a lot of things blocking," said Gailey. "He's gotten better at his blocking from the previous year."
HighlightsFor the notable highlights from Tuesday's action go to the Media Center at Buffalobills.com.
Injury updateQB Tyler Thigpen hasn't practiced in a week due to an abdominal strain. Head coach Chan Gailey however, expects him back before OTAs are over.
"I think he'll miss this week and I think he'll be back next week. It had been a nagging thing," said Gailey. "He had pulled a muscle in his rib cage and it has just been nagging and they're just trying to get it well. Throwing was aggravating it so they're trying to get it well."
The Bills resume their OTA practice schedule on Thursday at 12:35 pm.